USL - Bethlehem Steel FC / USL Match report

Match report: Ottawa Fury 1-0 Bethlehem Steel

Photo courtesy Steel Communications

Ottawa Fury’s Kevin Oliveira threaded a perfectly placed shot past Steel center backs Matt Mahoney and Brandon Aubrey and keeper Jake McGuire just 48 seconds after kick-off to defeat the Bethlehem Steel in Canada’s national capital on Friday night.

Ottawa proceeded to follow the tried-and-true tactic of bunkering and countering for the rest of the match, successfully protecting their lead and earning all three points.

Bethlehem held the possession advantage, but should award a twelfth game shirt to the posts and the crossbar, as Ottawa struck them several times. Ottawa captain and right wing Carl Haworth had a hat trick’s worth of goals denied by the woodwork.

Ottawa’s man of the match was center back Nana Attakora, returning from injury to make his first start of the season. He blocked a Matt Real shot in the 11th minute, and then denied Bethlehem’s best chance to score in the 42nd when he slide-tackled Santi Moar’s shot wide of an open goal from inside the six.

Attakora’s slide destroyed Moar from behind on the follow through, but referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere felt the risk to Moar’s legs and back was acceptable. If he had called a foul, the yellow card would have been Attakora’s second and the Canadian side would have spent the rest of the match down a man.

Steel head coach Brendan Burke, understandably, disagreed with the Frenchman’s decision. So did Moar, who found himself in the referee’s book for dissent.

The overall result favoring Ottawa was probably just, as Bethlehem rarely managed to connect the final decisive pass. Possession produced few opportunities to score. The Steel’s best chances came from longer balls to the flanks, sending striker Aidan Apodaca or winger Santi Moar in behind the Fury defense.

Bethlehem clearly have not yet adapted fully to Apodaca’s aerial disadvantage in creating hold up play. Aside from a handful of properly timed runs to get behind Ottawa, the Californian was ineffective. Jeremey Rafanello came on for Apodaca in the 66th minute, and four minutes later forced Ottawa’s save of the match from keeper Maxime Crepeau. Otherwise the Fury’s defense was solid, taking away the Steel’s midfield creativity that had helped defeat Indianapolis.

Soccer’s usual difficulties winning away were compounded by a several hour bus trip, the specific playing characteristics of TD Place’s artificial turf, and a let down from the supreme effort made the previous week with its 3 games in 8 days. Apparently, a soccer team crossing the U.S.-Canadian boarder at an airport faces significant challenges from customs officials, as this year the Steel chose seven hours on a bus rather than flying.

Bethlehem next play away to North Carolina FC in Cary, North Carlona. Kickoff on Saturday, June 2 is at 7 p.m.

Three Points

Record speed: Kevin Oliveira’s opening goal for Ottawa is the fastest the Fury has ever scored in league play, coming in the 48th second of the match. Matt Mahoney, Brandon Aubrey and Jake McGuire all just missed the perfectly placed shot that rebounded off the far post, caromed back across the goal mouth, and just curled inside the near one.

Eight weeks: Steel captain and defensive center midfielder James Chambers made his first start since the last day of March. He would probably be the first to tell you that his game does not quite have its normal smooth fluidity yet after the recovery from injury, but it will come.

Eighteen years: Michee Ngalina, the Steel’s youngest-ever goal scorer, for the first time did not have a significant impact on a Steel match in which he played. In addition to the young man’s youth and the inconsistency sport traditionally associates with it, he moved to the right for the first time and faced last week’s USL Team of the Week left back, Onui Obasa. His substitute, Chris Nanco, did not have much luck with Obasa either.

Lineups:

Bethlehem: Jake McGuire*; Olivier Mbaizo*, Matt Mahoney, Brandon Aubrey, Matt Real; Derrick Jones*, James Chambers © (Drew Skundrich 62’); Michee Ngalina (Chris Nanco 62’), Adam Najem*, Santi Moar; Aidan Apodaca (Jeremy Rafanello** 66’). Unused Substitutes: Tomas Romero**; Prosper Chiluya, A. J. Paterson, Mike Catalano. *loaned from Union **Academy player

Ottawa: Maxime Crepeau*; Eddie Edward, Nana Attakora, Thomas Mellieur-Giguere*, Onua Obasi; Jamar Dixon (Sergio Manesio 83’), Cristian Portilla (Azake Luboyera 90’), Kevin Oliveira; Carl Haworth ©, Steevan Dos Santos, Adonijah Reid (Tony Taylor 66’). Unused Substitutes: David Monsalve; Monti Mohsen, Kyle Porter, Chris Mannella. *loaned from Montreal Impact.

Scoring:

Ottawa      1st minute      Kevin Oliveira (Steevan Dos Santos)

Cards:

Ottawa            30th minute      Nana Attakora (foul)
Bethlehem      43rd minute      Santi Moar (dissent)

Officials: Ref: Pierre-Luc Lauzière, AR1: Andre Pickler AR2: Philippe Bettez Quessy, 4th Matt Souaré.

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